Being a full-time blogger, I get asked a lot of questions about blogging for a living. One of the most common questions I’m asked: how a person can manage to make enough blogging to blog for a living.
An Answer for the Curious
When I’m asked this by someone curious, but for the most part completely uninterested in blogging themselves, I typically answer by listing the forms of monetization at a blogger’s disposal. Bloggers typically make a living off of one or more of the following:
- Click throughs and/or displays (per 1000 views) of ads shown on their content;
- Commissions on sales if an affiliate link to an e-store is shared, then a blog reader clicks through and buys a product;
- Payments for sponsored posts from brands who want their products seen by a particular blog’s audience; or
- Sales of their own products and/or services, using their blog as a marketing platform to advertise what they sell.
In my opinion, these forms of monetization are pretty underwhelming. No one has ever been shocked to learn this is how bloggers make their living in my experience.
These days, I do think most internet-addicts (aren’t we all?) understand these forms of monetization are a blogger’s bread and butter. Who hasn’t heard a YouTuber discuss ad revenue (& the Adpocolypse), or read about how some Instagram influencers are paid exorbitant amounts for simply photographing themselves with a product in a pretty picture?
An Answer for Aspiring Bloggers
When aspiring bloggers ask this question, I definitely think the answer they’re after is quite different. Typically, they know and understand the forms of monetization at a blogger’s disposal already – they just want to know how one manages to make enough off these streams to stay at home in their pajamas and blog all day if they please.
The answer? Not likely what you want to hear but..
The Not-So-Secret Secret to Making Enough
Traffic. Somehow, they manage to get enough traffic, sustain that traffic, and sometimes even grow that traffic over time; loads of it is typically the only way they’re able to earn enough to live off one or more of these streams.
It’s a ridiculously annoying answer because aspiring bloggers know they need traffic, they’re just typically unaware of how to get so much of it.
How to Get Enough Traffic to Earn a Living from a Blog
From one full-time blogger to an aspiring full-time blogger, here’s my answer for those looking to put the horse before the cart, get those traffic numbers high, to finally reach kick it in your pj’s on the daily levels of income:
Figure out a way of gaining traffic that interests you (SEO, social media sites, posting, blog commenting, in-person outreach, etc.). Try getting traffic that way. Stop doing what’s not working well. Continue doing what is. Spend more time or figure out a way to outsource what’s working for you.
Again, not what you wanted to hear. Because if you’re an aspiring blogger who already has a blog you know these forms of getting traffic are really difficult to knack.
And there’s the rub, really. Because blogging’s hard, it’s not easy to get that traffic ball rolling, and even when you’ve got a nice snowball of traffic, even a one-hit wonder viral post, doesn’t mean you can reproduce it.
Why There’s No Guaranteed Way You’ll Pull in Enough Traffic
Sadly, there just isn’t a winning formula. There isn’t a way to blog that guarantees traffic, or a way to market your blog that guarantees traffic.
If there was a way to make sure you’d go viral on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, everybody would be using the technique. If there was a way to game the system, a secret to hacking high volumes of traffic, everybody would do just that to the point where it plainly wouldn’t work anymore.
So you just have to try, see what works (hopefully something will stick), and if you get a trickle, pour more effort into what’s working best and ignore everything else nearly completely.
People love reading your posts about a certain topic? Obsessed with your journal-entry style posts? Do you get higher interest and engagement when you write informational posts? When you research a topic extensively, then post a round up or summary of your findings, do you get a lot of traction? Write more of that.
Figure out what others like to see from you, keep doing more of it, work at it and hope that reels you in enough traffic to earn a trickle more. Rinse. Repeat.
In The End, Blogging is a Job
Sound like work? It is. Blogging is absolutely, 100% work.
But that’s what you asked for as an aspiring blogger who wanted to know how we-who-blog-for-a-living manage to do it. We turn it into a job.
Again – my experience? Day-in-day-out, blogging is not usually fun. Sometimes it is, but more often it’s a tiring grind that’s luckily rewarding at the end of the day. I for one wouldn’t trade it for the world.
But if you blog for a living, it’s not the same as blogging as a hobby. It’s absolutely work; it becomes a job whether you want it to or not.